Design inspiration comes from seeing themes evolve between disparate fabric prints and colours, rescued to be recreated into a new unique garment artwork.
As an artist and trained textile designer, I have a keen eye for colour harmony and the illustration and patterns in textile dress prints. The prints I source and collect are variously of a mix: classical floral illustrative, mille-fleur coverage (tiny flowers), geometric, abstract markings and astral space. A combination of all these together with coordinating plain colours makes a good patchwork.
Not all prints are of personal favourite by themselves, but depending on their colours, I will see a way they would contrast or blend within a theme. A dress full of rose bouquets can be cut up to introduce patch areas highlighting the best flowers. A smaller piece of fabric can become more special than the full repeated print area.
Cotton lace tops (often cotton/acrylic mix) are another good find, as they can be layered over other colours. Most synthetic lace fabrics also surprisingly take up plant dye to some extent, which removes any stark whiteness, too brilliant for patches amongst colours.
Choosing a print fabric to start with, start to make a pile with other colours and prints (5 is usually sufficient to start with). As you do this, one choice may be removed and replaced with another, as the combined effect literally ‘shouts’ too dark, too light, too blue, too pink, etc., depending on the theme in mind. The most subtle patchwork is when the overall effect is of fabrics of a similar tone; i.e. nothing too light, nor too dark, on its own. I often do include black with a strong colour collection, due to its fashion favouritism, but am more careful with lighter tones and darks mixed, when making patch-worked garments using panels larger than traditional patchwork.
Silk Painting Inspiration
The print designs on fabrics in each bundle of coordinates collection may suggest new design themes, using their various elements, to create a new design as silk painted panel. I also use some elements to copy combined with other images of my own. While working, I may be inspired towards a new design theme, to be developed yet further again. Scale can be considered: a small image from existing prints can be enlarged as a main feature. Colour mixing dyes to match the existing prints is an essential skill.